Will linseed oil stop wood from cracking

Linseed oil: The ultimate solution to wood splits?

Wood splits are a pain in the neck, to say the least. Most of the time splits leave what would have been a lovely timber somewhat useless. There are many solutions that people have come up with over the years to mitigate this problem. In this article, we will address some of these solutions seeing if they truly work. Let’s dive in!

Will linseed oil stop wood from cracking

It’s annoying when cracks appear on your finished project. Linseed oil has been rumored to solve this problem However, will linseed oil stop wood from cracking?

The answer is yes! Boiled Linseed oil has been used to help slow down the rate wood loses moisture hence preventing wood split. It is however worth noting that there are variables upon which the wood would still split even after using linseed oil.

Due to this reason, I have prepared this article to inform you how to best use linseed oil to prevent wood splits, what to do when linseed fails you, and other proven alternatives of preventing wood splits.

How to keep wood from splitting when drying

How to keep wood from splitting when drying

For trees to grow they have to retain moisture content. However, when a tree is cut this moisture content (MC) is lost gradually. Before we can work with wood it needs to lose most of its moisture content. Or reach a state known as equilibrium moisture content (EMC).

Working with greenwood (wood that is yet to dry) is hard and more often will shrink or change shape as it dries and this may not be desirable. It is, therefore, easier to use dry wood because it hardly changes once it attains its EMC.

But seasoning wood (the process of drying wood) should be a slow process because if wood loses moisture too quickly then the internal stress between sapwood and heartwood causes the wood to split especially on the ends.

Can seasoned wood shrink?

To keep wood from splitting while it gradually approaches its EMC there are a number of ways you can deploy. The best technology of today is using a Kiln.

Wood still shrinks even when seasoned, yes it does! Well, the wood is ‘breathing’ as it loses moisture it can gain depending on the humidity in the air.

The equilibrium which for most woods is 7-11% is the state of stability of that particular environment. This implies when you take the wood that’s attained EMC to a drier area it will shrink.

We can use linseed oil to mitigate this challenge read more on this below.

How to protect wood from splits using Linseed oil

Linseed oil finish usually comes in a raw or boiled state. The boiled type will be thicker, penetrate slowly but dries quite fast. To make the application process smooth and the penetration quicker, linseed is thinned using pure turpentine.

How to protect wood from splits using Linseed oil

The ratio is usually 3 parts linseed to one part turpentine but this is for raw linseed oil. Boiled linseed oil is mixed with turpentine in the ratio 1:1. Always remember to store linseed oil in air-tight containers. If left open it forms skin.

Steps applying Linseed oil

  • step one

Make sure the surface is clean, dry, and free of dust. use a soft brush to apply the diluted oil possibly warm. You can use a hot bath to warm the oil.

  • step two

continue brushing on the wood till the oil penetrates the wood. After about 10 minutes use a clean rug to wipe off excess oil. Don’t allow pools of oil to be left on the wood.

  • step three

After a few coats, the oil will penetrate less after the wood is saturated. At this point your wood is safe. If a polished sheen look is desired use of a dry rug or better yet a brush to vigorously rub the wood will achieve it.

Some artist whittlers will submerge their whittled piece in linseed oil and warm it. When no bubbles can be seen saturation is reached and rubbing can begin. Perhaps this is suited for small pieces only.

Other than linseed oil will tung oil prevent cracking?

Tung oil is more expensive than linseed oil because it is better to water and is heat resistant. Tung oil can be used instead of linseed oil.

That’s all about dry wood what of greenwood? Let’s talk greenwood.

How to keep green wood from splitting

Greenwood is the most split-prone wood. this is because it has a high moisture content than its environment. When it quickly gives away this moisture it will most likely form splits. So how can this be controlled?

To keep green wood from splitting you may seal the ends with shellac varnish, commercial end sealer, or melted paraffin wax. Splitting happens on the ends because that’s where the moisture is lost. reseal the ends if a new sign of splitting occurs.

Final thoughts

There is a chemical known as polyethylene glycol of PEG. this chemical replaces the water in the wood. The process involves soaking wood in this liquid. The chemical is more stable and would reduce the chances of splitting some people swear by it as the ultimate solution to stabilizing wood. My personal experience with it opposes calling it a complete success

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